Conviction for dangerous goods storage breaches

A distribution and warehousing company has been convicted and fined $47,000 for unsafe storage and handling of dangerous goods at its West Footscray premises.


West Point (Vic) Pty Ltd was sentenced in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 2 February after pleading guilty to four charges under the Dangerous Goods Act and the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations.

The company was fined $5,000 for failing to prevent access by unauthorised persons to areas where dangerous goods were stored and handled; and $7,000 for failing to protect dangerous goods from impact with vehicles and provide measures to contain any leaks or spills.

The court also imposed an aggregate fine of $35,000 for failing to update a manifest, failing to display "HAZCHEM" placards at every workplace entrance, failing to notify WorkSafe as required when storing quantities of dangerous goods in excess of the prescribed amount, failing to display placards on packaged dangerous goods as required, and failing to ensure the premises had a compliant fire protection system.

The company was also ordered to pay $5,800 in costs.

In August 2022, WorkSafe inspectors observed Class 3 dangerous goods being stored outside of designated areas in various locations around West Point’s two adjacent premises, at quantities well above those manifested.

Dangerous goods were being stored with inaccurate or missing placarding and a lack of bunding, while sections of fencing on the site had fallen down, posing a security risk.

After being notified by WorkSafe that 1.7 million litres of dangerous goods were being stored on the premises instead of the previously notified at 130,000 litres, Fire Rescue Victoria attended the site and further observed a lack of fire protection and safe firefighter access.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said there was no excuse for ignoring safety requirements when it came to storing and handling dangerous goods.

"The unsafe storage, the lack of safe access for firefighters, and the failure to notify authorities of a significant increase in the volume of dangerous goods stored on these premises created a recipe for disaster," Dr Beer said.

"Had any dangerous goods ignited there was significant risk of a large fire with toxic fumes impacting workers, neighbouring residents and businesses, and emergency responders."

For practical guidance on controlling risks associated with dangerous goods in the workplace, employers should refer to the Code of practice: The storage and handling of dangerous goods.